Thomas Becher, APR
Neathawk Dubuque & Packett

O. Winston Link Museum, dedicated to work of pioneering photography, celebrates 10th anniversary
Museum depicting steam railroading and rural culture
stays relevant in era of digital snapshots

ROANOKE, Va. (February 25, 2014) - The O. Winston Link Museum, dedicated to the work of the historic photographer O. Winston Link, marks its 10th anniversary in 2014 by celebrating a pioneer widely considered the master of juxtaposition between steam railroading and rural culture.

The museum, dedicated to preserving, collecting and interpreting the photographic, audio and video works of Link and his project to document the last days of steam along the Norfolk & Western Railway, has more than 300 black-and-white and color images on exhibit of Link's work depicting life along the railroad in the late 1950s.

The collection remains timeless even in this age of instant-gratification snapshots.

"The allure of the museum extends far beyond the spirit of camaraderie felt by lovers of old steam locomotives. The Link is not only devoted to the historic photography of O. Winston Link, but is a photography cultural center dedicated to all fine photography that tells a story of our heritage and our social ethos, connecting us with our past and capturing the essence of who we are today," says museum director Mike McNeil.

This spring, for example, the museum, located in a 1950s-era former railway passenger station, unveils a never-before-seen collection of work from photographer Ian Ruhter, a wet-plate photographer who utilizes his one-of-kind "camera truck," a delivery van retrofitted into a single-shot camera to create massive-scale images on aluminum sheets. The installation will be the first-ever showing of Ruhter's unprecedented project to document the 150th anniversary of The Yosemite Grant, which set the precedent for our country's first national park.

Link captured the last days of steam operation on the N&W Railway in the late 1950s, but within the walls of the museum galleries visitors can experience much more than just photographs - and more than just trains.


The images created by Link are vignettes into history and sociology. They are art as well as an integral part the history and technology of photography.


Link (1914-2001) captured the sounds and sights of the powerful locomotives and the communities along the rail. Visitors become immersed in the auditory and visual experience as they hear and see the engines struggling up a grade or passing through towns.


Visitors travel through seven galleries, each offering new knowledge and different perceptions and designed to showcase a complete awareness of the time-period and the context in which Winston worked.

The Roanoke Gallery uses historic images, artifacts and film to introduce the N&W Railway and the impact it had on the communities along the lines. The gallery also introduces visitors to the life of Winston Link and the N&W project, and his commercial photography work. The Heritage Gallery is a location to stop and reflect on the community life of the railroad. Enjoy the artifacts preserved in the recreated - and authentic - Austin's Vesuvius Country Store as photographed by Winston Link in 1956.


In the Radford Gallery the names of towns along the top of each wall detail stops along the Abingdon Branch of the N&W Railway. The photographs in this gallery showcase the spectacular views and people along the line. Look through the view camera in the center of the room to see the world as Link did. Visitors to the Museum will be surprised to see the daytime and color images in this gallery. Because the Abingdon Branch ran only during daylight hours, and because Link was drawn to the vibrant fall colors, many of his color photographs were made here.

The Shenandoah Gallery focuses on life along the railway. In this room, as with the other photographic galleries, you will see the names of stops along the Shenandoah line from Roanoke, Va., to Hagerstown, Md. An interactive diorama allows you to control the lighting of a scene to build the final image. Also on display is a showcase of Link's original photographic equipment, everything from his numbered carrying cases to reflectors, power boxes, flash bulbs and cameras.

The Pocahontas Gallery features the people and the machines that made up the N&W Railway. As in the Radford and Shenandoah galleries, names of stops along the Pocahontas line complement the walls of this gallery. Notice the steam whistle and locomotive bell in the center of this gallery. Photographs of brakemen, conductors, and the men who made this project possible are displayed here.

The Scioto Gallery displays published works relating to Link and includes listening and viewing stations. At these stations, you can hear the recordings and view the works done by Link during the N&W project.

The museum's decade-long success has been instrumental in the revitalization of downtown Roanoke, a former railway town that today features a vibrant city core with eclectic restaurants, shops and art galleries.

Nearby is the Virginia Museum of Transportation, which includes a special pavilion constructed to house the static display of the Norfolk & Western J Class 611 and A Class 1218 steam locomotives.

About the O. Winston Link Museum


Located in downtown Roanoke, the museum is situated in a restored Norfolk & Western Railway passenger train station and opened in January 2004. It currently displays hundreds of photographic prints and has several interactive displays including audio that provide information on Link's photographic subjects.

For more information, please visit or call 540-982-5465.